Nutty for Nuts
By Melissa Diane Smith
Learn how to incorporate more nuts into your gluten-free diet for better flavor, variety, and nutrition.

Looking for a way to make your diet richer in nutrients and flavor? Try using more of nature’s nutritional powerhouses — nuts and seeds. These tiny morsels pack huge nutritional punches. This month, we’ll focus on nuts. Look for my column on seeds in the September issue of Better Nutrition.

Research shows that eating nuts regularly confers many health benefits, including reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and macular degeneration. Nuts are also rich in fiber, vitamin E, and various minerals, such as heart-healthy potassium and magnesium. Yet people often avoid nuts because they think they’re fattening. Studies suggest otherwise: people actually lose weight better on nut-rich diets, and those who eat nuts are leaner than those who don’t.

If you find yourself bingeing on nuts, you may have an allergy-addiction—a strange phenomenon in which people crave and continue to eat the very food to which they are allergic. Nuts are a common food allergen, so be sure to avoid any to which you are sensitive. If you’re sensitive to one type, try others. Here are some tips to help you incorporate more nuts in your diet:

  • Eat nuts as snacks. A source of fat, protein, carbs, and fiber, nuts can help stabilize lagging blood sugar levels between meals. Carry almonds or Brazil nuts in your pocket, purse, or briefcase to nosh on when you need them. Or serve macadamia nuts, peanuts (which, technically are not nuts, but legumes), or pistachios at parties. Choose raw or dry roasted without any other ingredients. If you’re carbohydrate-sensitive, beware of cashews: they’re the highest-carb nut next to chestnuts.
  • Use nuts as toppers or ingredients. Small amounts of nuts on top of or mixed into vegetable dishes, salads, or stir-fries can give regular fare some gourmet flavor. Think green beans amandine, Waldorf salad (with walnuts, apples, and celery), stuffing with pecans or walnuts, or Chinese stir-fries with cashews.
  • Spread nut butter around. Almond butter and peanut butter are the two most common types, but cashew butter and cashew-macadamia butter are available too. Some companies, such as Artisana and Futters Nut Butters, make pecan and walnut butters. Spread them on gluten-free bread or crackers, apple slices, or celery sticks.
  • Bake with nut flour. If you are sensitive to grains or simply want a substitute for rice flour from time to time, almond flour, hazelnut flour, and coconut flour—all available from Bob’s Red Mill—are three alternatives.

Allergaroo Gluten-Free Meals for Kids

If you’re weary of reading labels and scouring shelves for gluten-free fare your kids will eat, you’ll love Allergaroo meals for kids from Allergy Friendly Foods LLC. Developed by a mom who had trouble finding appropriate foods for her child with food allergies, these meals are free of the eight most common food allergens—gluten, milk, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, and shellfish. Simply pop a pouch of Spaghetti, Chili Mac, or Spyglass Noodles in the microwave for 1 minute, and you’ve got a convenient, great-tasting, gluten-free meal your child will love.

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